Given the constant demands on people’s time and attention, it’s no wonder many people have a difficult time balancing self-care with serving others. Family members, friends, co-workers, and even strangers ask for your time and resources to help them meet their own needs. Take a look at this guide to learning how to take care of yourself while taking care of others.
The Overwhelming Need to Care for Others
Whether you’re meeting someone’s physical or emotional needs, you’re investing a great deal of your own energy into the process. Perhaps you do most of your caregiving as a part of your personal life as you watch over your children, an ill spouse, or elderly parents. Maybe you work in medicine, education, customer service, or another field that requires you to take care of other people’s needs. For some people, their caregiving responsibilities span both work and home.
The Impact of Caring for Others
According to the American Psychological Association, caregivers show higher levels of depression and physical problems compared to those who don’t have a caregiver role. Regardless of whether you have formal caregiving responsibilities or not, you may find the pressure of being focused on meeting the needs of other people is enough to make you neglect taking care of yourself. With this kind of situation, you may feel anger, resentment, and helplessness.
What Is Self-Care?
Self-care is the ongoing process of meeting your own emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. It's important to take the time to care for yourself to avoid burnout and exhaustion. Examples of self-care practices include making time to exercise, speaking to a therapist or live psychic, and engaging in meditation.
Strategies for Improving Self-Care
A day at the spa once or twice a year is fun, but it doesn’t add up to consistent self-care. Instead, psychologist Ellen Bard recommends small, frequent self-care acts. For example, you may try to take a walk outside two or three times a week. This improves your health while relaxing your mind. Or, engage in something entertaining such as watching your favorite movie or talking to an online clairvoyant. Regardless of how you choose to do self-care, the point is that you do it.
When you look for ways to improve your self-care, don’t overlook the basics such as making sure you eat nutritious meals, get adequate sleep, and exercise regularly. Consider incorporating yoga, Zumba, or other activities that allow for a physical release of your stress. These practices are good for your body as well as your mind.
The Benefits of Self-Care
As you take better care of yourself over time, you create more inner peace and joy. This allows you to feel refreshed as you tackle the many demands you face in caring for others. When you meet your own needs first, you have more mental and physical energy to be an effective caregiver.
In making time to care for yourself, you’ll become a more effective and giving person with abundant compassion toward others. That's a good thing for everyone, yourself included.